The Best Hawaii Souvenirs Start Here

Do’s And Don’ts in Hawaii Now | 10 Takeaways

We’re often asked how to fit in when visiting Hawaii as COVID restrictions are soon to be lifted. So we came up with a just revised list to give a hand to questioning minds.

And before going on, should the title be Dos and Dont’s or as we prefer Do’s and Don’ts? It is generally suggested that when written in books, the preference is for the former, whereas for the internet, the best choice is the latter.

Do’s And Don’ts in Hawaii Now

Fight the urge to make U-turns on the highway.

We can’t recall how many times have we mentioned this before, nor how many times we continue to see this. Driving here is relaxed. Slow down and enjoy the scenery. It’s a quintessential aspect of the Hawaii experience. And please, please avoid u-turns even on two-lane highways at all costs. This is not Disneyland. While highways here in Hawaii can appear likely country roads, they can be as deadly as freeways on the mainland. Don’t be complacent.

Drive something other than a convertible.

No problem at all if you do, but yes, you will stand out. Also, think about sun damage to your skin and unexpected rain that drops seemingly from out of nowhere.

Wear shoes that aren’t new, aren’t white, and are appropriate.

Too clean shoes will look like you’re just off the plane. If you’re on Kauai, for example, remember how our red dirt can and will permanently stain the best of shoes and clothes. Don’t wear sandals on trails, it’s just an accident waiting to happen. Would you believe we’ve seen many people over the years hiking Diamond Head crater in both flip-flops and high-heels?

Consider removing shoes when entering someone’s home.

That’s considered polite. Need to wear shoes indoors? No problem. Just bring a separate pair of indoor slippers. That’s the akamai way.

Simple directions and the important distinction between Mauka and Makai.

Makai means towards the ocean while Mauka means towards the mountain or inland. Simple. Directions work differently in Hawaii. Other than on Oahu, we don’t generally refer to highways by names or numbers. Also, in many cases using landmarks is more common in directions than street names.

Home is the mainland, not, “the states.”

While it’s certainly a long way to North America, you’re not on foreign soil here. Canadians and other international visitors are exempt.

Aloha is often as much a feeling between people rather than a word in daily conversation.

First, aloha is how you deal with people with whom you interact. Do you let them turn in traffic, or instead block their way? Here’s a hint – we don’t do it the same way as on the mainland.

In terms of speaking, a nice “hello” and “thanks” work too. Many of us use Aloha and Mahalo more frequently in our written communication. Or when hanging up the phone.

Avoid matching aloha wear.

Aloha clothing is great and common, just not typically in matched family sets.

Bring home souvenirs but not rocks, sand, and other natural artifacts.

It’s considered environmental theft nowadays and just isn’t good karma. We’ll leave it at that. The best Hawaii souvenirs start here.

Please protect Hawaii’s coral reefs.

While Hawaii’s unique coral reefs are recovering, please do your part to protect them for generations to come. Use physical barrier-type sunscreens and don’t buy coral jewelry for starters.

Please add your thoughts too.

Updated 3/10/22.

39 thoughts on “Do’s And Don’ts in Hawaii Now | 10 Takeaways”

  1. I always caution people about the u turn thing. I was once caught in traffic going north of Kapaa(past the crawl) and later found out an elderly lady was driving with her husband and she made a sudden u turn and she got T-boned. The husband survived but alas, she did not. Also, stop and ask a local for directions instead of relying on the phone. You might just meet someone you would never have otherwise! There’s basically only one highway. Great article as always, Mahalo

  2. One more suggestion for the list: Don’t honk your horn when driving! In Hawaii, it’s taken as a very aggressive and rude thing to do. Put your brain in zen mode when behind the wheel, be patient, and focus on how beautiful your surroundings are if you have to wait for someone to move.

    Thanks to BoH for the great tips!

  3. Tip #11:
    When on the Kona side of the Big Island, turn Locations ON on your phone and Google County/State parks. Finding a restroom available for public use is difficult unless you’re at Target, Walmart, Safeway, or Costco. Most businesses(aside from dining in restaurants), & gas stations won’t let anyone use their restrooms. Majority of businesses are experiencing a severe crunch of employees and and are unable to constantly sanitize restrooms. Save yourself the misery and know where to go.

  4. On Maui at the airport, at the agriculture check they always ask “Where are you headed?”
    Almost always people say “the States”. They say “You are in the States” and laugh.

  5. “Aloha clothing is great and common, just not typically in matched family sets.”

    A true classic.

    Thanks BOH guys. I’ll remember that one.

  6. Aloha! It’s dos and don’ts, as the words are not possessive. Another Don’t is Don’t Honk! It’s rude!

  7. I live here and call the mainland “the States,” because we share almost nothing with them. We on our own timezone, own weather, own culture, own geography, own attitude, own aloha, own driving style and much, much more. Nothing wrong with calling the “the States” and people there don’t seem to mind.


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